Aloh Naaleh

<I>Vayera</I>: In Israel, Going to Israel

The <I>midrash</I> relates that this week's <I>parasha</I> contains the second command of <I>lekh lekha</I> given to Avraham <I>Avinu</I>. The first <I>lekh lekha</I>, in last week's <I>parasha</I>, commanded him to go to <I>Eretz Yisrael</I>, and the second, one in this week's <I>parasha</I>, commands him to go to sacrifice his son Yitzchak., 11/18/2005, 1:20 AM

<I>Lech Lecha</I>: A Pleasant View

Avraham and Sarah arrive in a country similar to the modern State of Israel, one that awaits redemption and return -- as the Canaanite nations "still" inhabit the Land (12:6). This raises a question that remains timely: What advantage is there for a Jew to live in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> if this is not yet the appointed time?, 11/11/2005, 1:17 AM

The Essence of Sukkot

What is <I>simcha</I>? Is it merely the emotion of happiness and joy?, 10/21/2005, 2:27 AM

<I>Vayelekh</I>: Women, Torah and Eretz Yisrael

<I>Hak'hel</I> is a time-bound, positive <I>mitzvah</I>, from which women are generally exempt. On the other hand, the <I>mitzvot</I> of Torah study and, by extension, writing a Torah scroll are not time-bound and yet, women are exempt (<I>Kiddushin</I> 34a). , 10/6/2005, 1:46 PM

<i>Ki Tavo</I>: First Fruits

Each individual would acknowledge that, though he had labored intensively in his fields, the resulting fruits were a gift from God., 9/22/2005, 3:52 PM

<I>Ki Teitzeh</I>: A Moral and Just Society

As the people of Israel prepare to enter <I>Eretz Israel</I>, God reminds them of the key elements of a moral and just society. They did not have the privilege of living in such a society in the past and, therefore, our <I>parashah</I> spells out the minutiae of such a society., 9/15/2005, 11:08 PM

<I>Shoftim</I>: Judges in the Land of Israel

The Talmud (<I>Makkot</I> 7) derives from our <I>parasha</I> that outside Israel, courts must be established only in the major population centers; whereas, in Israel, they must be set up even in smaller towns., 9/8/2005, 1:14 PM

<I>Re'eh</I>: Outstanding Geography

Immediately after the curses and blessings are presented, the prophet reports two reactions. On the one hand, all those nations now join in a pact to fight "as one" against <I>Am Yisrael</I> (9: 1-2). On the other hand, the Givonim choose to present themselves as coming from "a faraway land" to make peace with the Jewish People., 9/1/2005, 11:23 PM

<I>Ekev</I>: Living Spiritually, Meriting Long Life

According to Jewish tradition, living in the land of Israel is a key to longevity. , 8/25/2005, 10:15 PM

"Come and Inherit the Land"

Moshe proclaims: "Go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, to give them and to their seed after them." Rashi, in his commentary to this verse, writes: "No one is disputing [your claim to the land] and you have no need for war. Had you not sent the spies you would not have needed weapons.", 8/10/2005, 5:06 PM

<I>Matot</I>: Revenge

God told Moshe that the Midianites deserved punishment and that the children of Israel had His blessing to exact that punishment. Moshe felt that this revenge should be tempered with the idea that the revenge was intended to sanctify God's name., 7/27/2005, 5:02 PM

<I>Klal Yisrael</I> Has An Address

We speak of the Jewish people today consisting of those currently living in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I>, along with our brethren located elsewhere in the Diaspora. Sociologically, this may be correct. However, from the Halachic standpoint, this is far from being the case., 7/21/2005, 9:43 PM

<I>Balak</I>: Synagogues & Study Halls

Transforming the tent and the <I>mishkan</I> into synagogue and study hall is a common theme in <I>midrashic</I> literature. It is meant to help us think that the devastation of the destruction of the Temple was not total, and that we survive in our synagogues and study halls. , 7/14/2005, 11:08 PM

<I>Korach:</I> A Land of Milk & Honey

The expression "a land of milk and honey" appears in the Torah ? with one exception ? only in reference to the Land of Israel. That exception is found in our <I>parasha</I>., 6/28/2005, 9:24 PM

The Priestly Blessing in the Diaspora

Throughout the year, people living outside of Israel are worried about their livelihood and, therefore, not in a true state of <I>simcha</I> (joy), which is necessary for <I>birkat kohanim</I>., 6/12/2005, 1:25 PM

<I>Emor:</I> Time & Place

Neither God nor the Jewish People alone can create a <I>chag</I>. So, the <I>pasuk</I> quotes God as saying: "These are holy days, as far as I am concerned. And if you - Israel - will also proclaim them as such, then they will really become festivals.", 5/13/2005, 2:21 PM

<I>Acharei Mot</I>: The Land of Israel Effect

The <I>Meshekh Chokhma</I> writes: "There is no <I>sedra</I> in the Torah wherein there is no mention of <I>Eretz Israel</I>." , 4/20/2005, 11:44 AM

<I>Tazria</I>: Time, Space and Person

Jewish self-alienation and national fragmentation is only mitigated by the state of Israel., 4/7/2005, 11:37 PM

<I>Shemini</I>: Abandon the Stork

Having returned to its ancestral homeland after approximately 2,000 years in exile, the Jewish people ought to rethink the "stork" model of <I>chesed</I>, which has become a hallmark of life in the Diaspora. , 3/31/2005, 6:57 PM

Shushan Purim: Walls of Honor

A city is defined as "walled" if its wall stood at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun, regardless of its status at the time of Mordechai and Esther. The reason for this, according to the <I>Talmud Yerushalmi</I>, is to give honor to the Land of Israel, which lay desolate in those days., 3/24/2005, 1:08 PM

<I>Vayikra</i>: Hear the Call

Why does the first word in <I>Vayikra</I> end with an undersized letter <I>aleph</I>? Moshe, say the sages, wanted the word to be written not <I>"Vayikra"</I> with the <I>aleph</I> ("And He called"), but as <I>"Vayikar"</I> - without the <I>aleph</I> ("And He happened upon," as in the case of Bilaam in <I>Bamidbar</I> 23:4)., 3/17/2005, 5:30 PM

<I>Pekudei</I>: The Pledge

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin, in his commentary to the Torah <I>Oznayim LaTorah</I>, explains the use of the word "pledge" in reference to the destruction of the two Temples by way of an analogy to the everyday world of commerce., 3/11/2005, 10:21 AM

<I>Vayak'hel</I>: A Jew's Profession is Faith

A Jew's profession, as the prophet Yonah said to the sailors, is <I>"Ivri anochi"</I>, I am a Jew., 3/3/2005, 11:17 AM

<I>Ki Tisa</I>: The Coin of Fire

An anonymous commentator in the 19th century , brought by the <I>Chidushei Harim</I>, raises a question about the quoted <I>midrash</I>: Why did the Almighty show Moshe a "coin of fire", rather than a fiery metal coin?, 2/24/2005, 9:45 PM

<I>Tetzave</I>: For God and Crown

The Torah states clearly that there must be a High Priest. Not so a king. , 2/17/2005, 4:35 PM

<I>Terumah</I>: The Impossible Becomes Possible

[S]ometimes, it is only in hindsight that we are able to discern His hand in all that we have succeeded in accomplishing., 2/10/2005, 8:17 PM

<I>Mishpatim</I>: No Vacuums in the Land of Israel

God informs the Jewish people about their entry into the Land of Israel. He tells them that the nations inhabiting the land will be chased out gradually, so as to ensure that the land doesn't turn desolate as it becomes populated by the Jews., 2/3/2005, 7:56 PM

<I>Yitro</I>: Jewish Unity

When each individual Jew agreed to accept the Torah, he put aside his own desires and embraced the agenda set down by God. In so doing, every Jew focused on the same exact thing, the will of God., 1/26/2005, 4:17 PM

<I>B'shalach</I>: A Time to Act

Evidently, there is a time for prayer and a time for action. But how does one know how and when to choose between these two alternatives?, 1/20/2005, 12:48 PM

<I>Bo</I>: Matzah of Freedom

When we begin the <I>Seder</I>, we introduce the <I>matzah</I> as "bread of affliction." But by the time we finish the story, the <I>matzah</I> has turned into a symbol of freedom. How does <I>matzah</I> serve as such a contradictory symbol?, 1/13/2005, 7:06 PM

<I>Va'era</I>: How Many Jews Left Egypt and Entered Israel?

God changed the world's natural and political order so that two men would enter the land [of Israel]., 1/5/2005, 2:45 PM

<I>Sh'mot</I>: From Promise to Reason

From the very beginning, God's plan was not merely to free us from Egyptian bondage and oppression. His idea was to take us from there, give us the Torah, and bring us to <I>Eretz Israel</I>., 12/30/2004, 4:10 PM

<I>Vayechi</I>: Yaakov and Yisrael

In this week's <I>parasha</I>, Yaakov <I>Avinu</I> is referred to by two different names: Yaakov and Yisrael. The commentaries have much to say about these two names. Almost all agree that the name Yaakov relates to the time spent in <I>Galut</I> and the <I>Galut</I> mentality., 12/23/2004, 12:10 AM

<I>Vayigash</I>: Two Ya'akovs

The first Ya'akov, when given the chance to see his long-lost son in Egypt, goes off with great enthusiasm and zeal. The second Ya'akov, while on the way to see Yosef, stops in Be'er Sheva, and only continues on his journey after God says to him: "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt." (<I>Bereishit</I> 46:3), 12/16/2004, 5:38 PM

<I>Miketz</I>: Trust in God

The miracles of Chanukah were encased in natural wrappings, but were, in essence, miraculous. <I>Bitachon</I> brings those miracles into history and allows us to recognize the miraculous wrapped in the natural., 12/9/2004, 8:09 PM

<I>Vayeshev:</I> Every Jew, An Israeli

"From this we learn," says the Rebbe of Ostrov, "that from the time <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> was promised to Avraham, every Jew must see himself as a citizen of Israel.", 12/2/2004, 1:36 PM

<I>VaYishlach:</I> To Facilitate Aliyah

Declaring "the wealth of <I>chutz-la'aretz</I> unworthy of being retained by him," (Rashi, <I>Bereishit</I> 46 6) he first used it to bribe Esav and then left it all to Esav in return for Esav's share in <I>Ma'arat HaMachpela</I> (<I>Tanchuma, Vayishlach</I> 11)., 11/24/2004, 5:47 PM

<I>Toldot:</I> Esav Equals Peace

This is the significance of <I>"Esav b'gematriya shalom."</I> , 11/11/2004, 6:34 PM

<I>Lech Lecha</I>: I Always Knew You Were a Beauty

As they are about to enter Egypt, Avraham says to Sarah (12:11-13), "Behold, now I know that you are a beautiful woman and when the Egyptians see you, they will say 'She must be his wife' and they will kill me and let you live. So please tell them you're my sister so it will be good for me.", 10/21/2004, 4:55 PM

<I>Noach</I>: Why Did Avram Make Aliyah?

Careful readers of <I>sefer Bereishit</I> know that Avraham Avinu's trek to the land of Canaan did not begin with the <I>Lekh-Lekha</I> command in Chapter 12; rather, it was set into motion as a "family outing" at the end of <I>parashat Noach</I>. , 10/13/2004, 2:42 PM

Sukkot: Joy Over and Above

The possession of <I>Eretz Yisrael</I>, the joy in reaping the benefits of its produce, and the privilege of living in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I> all add a dimension of joy and significance to the holiday of Sukkot over and above the joy and significance of any of the other holidays., 9/28/2004, 4:46 PM

<I>Eretz Yisrael</I> and the Yom Kippur Liturgy

One might have expected that the Yom Kippur liturgy would be permeated by the themes of forgiveness, man's iniquity and his inherently precarious status before God on this awesome day of repentance. Yet, this is not at all the case., 9/22/2004, 6:41 PM

<I>Reshit HaShanah</I>

It is interesting that the words "Rosh Hashanah " do not appear in the <I>Chumash</I>. Rather, <I>Bamidbar</I> 29:1 refers to it as a <I>"yom teruah"</I> [a day of blowing of the horn] for you.", 9/14/2004, 4:44 PM

<I>Nitzavim-Vayelekh</I>: Return With God

The Talmud and Rashi understand the word <I>"et"</I> as a preposition, "with". Moshe is not saying that God will return you from your captivity, but rather that God Himself will return together with you from your captivity., 9/9/2004, 4:56 PM

<i>Ki Tavo</i>: Singularly Plural

It is, of course, of great significance that <I>bikurim</i> were brought to the Temple. Bringing <I>bikurim</I> is an expression of the farmer's awareness of his partnership with God. Recognizing his status as God's junior partner, he delivers the first ripened fruit to the true land owner in His "home"., 9/1/2004, 10:21 PM

<I>Ki-Tetze</I>: Aliyah to the Army

When speaking about <I>aliyah</I>, Diaspora Jews sometimes say, "Certainly we are planning to live in Israel. But with all the fighting there, we can't go now. We will go as soon as the situation becomes more peaceful.", 8/25/2004, 4:10 PM

<I>Re'eh</I>: No Needy Among You

This week's Torah portion, <I>parashat Re'eh</I>, seems to contain a blatant contradiction. Within a matter of a couple verses, the Torah appears to make a 180-degree turn in terms of its thinking regarding poverty and the Land of Israel., 8/12/2004, 5:32 PM

<I>Eikev</I>: God Looking Over Your Shoulder

There are those who would probably prefer that God not be looking over their shoulders, so to speak. In fact, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (13th Century) wrote that sinners should stay away: it is one thing to sin outside of Israel, but quite another to rebel against the King inside His own palace., 8/5/2004, 6:14 PM

<I>Vaetchanan</I>: The Good Land Beyond

Our Sages teach us that Moses' desire to enter the Land was motivated by a spiritual need...., 7/29/2004, 8:25 PM

<I>Devarim</I>: Sins of the Fathers

The adult generation that had left Egypt had already died in the desert; Moses was speaking to their children, who were not culpable in the matter of the spies., 7/22/2004, 12:36 AM

<I>Pinchas</I>: Claim It and Do Not Let Go

The <I>Sfas Emes</I> explains that when one acquires a physical place in <I>Eretz Yisrael</I>, one also acquires a corresponding aspect of Torah. The Torah and the land are bound together and are interdependent., 7/8/2004, 5:49 PM

<I>Balak</I>: The Power of Speech

Each of these two components, body and soul, has its own needs and its own mode of expression. The two components are connected to each other through speech. When it is separated from the body, the soul requires no expression. When the soul enters the body, however, the soul and body must interact - speech being the mechanism through which body and soul coalesce. , 7/1/2004, 6:39 PM

<i>Korach</I>: <i>Machloket</i> Resolved

Over the course of the last century there was a major <I>machloket</I> that appears to have been <I>leshem shamayim</I>., 6/17/2004, 5:46 PM

<I>B'haalotkha</I>: Taking the Initiative

The story of <I>Pesach Sheni</I> gives us a fascinating insight into the behavior of the Jewish people in the desert. Those who had failed to bring the Paschal lamb on time came to Moshe, saying, "We are defiled by a human corpse; why should we be diminished (<I>lama nigara</I>)?", 6/3/2004, 3:34 PM

<I>Naso</I>: Only In Israel

<I>Kohanim</I> are commanded to bless the people with the three-fold Priestly Blessing. The requirement is to bless the people daily. Blessing the people more than once a day is an optional <I>mitzvah</I>. <I>Kohanim</I> in Jerusalem and many other parts of Israel bless the people almost 450 times a year., 5/27/2004, 8:17 PM

<I>Bamidbar</I>: Take Nothing for Granted

According to Rashi, the Torah is teaching us the important lesson that nothing should be taken for granted. Even when a parent demonstrates his love for his child with a hug and a kiss, he still verbalizes the words "I love you." So, too, our Father in Heaven. , 5/20/2004, 4:35 PM

<I>Emor</I>: Buy Blue & White

"The entire Land of Israel has greater sanctity than all other lands. How is its sanctity expressed?", 5/6/2004, 12:20 PM